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Imagine Launches Audio Division With iHeartMedia Podcast Slate Deal (EXCLUSIVE)

Ron Howard Brian Grazer
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Imagine Entertainment is launching a new audio division tied to an exclusive deal with iHeartMedia.

The film and TV company’s chairmen, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, announced Tuesday that Imagine will co-produce a slate of unscripted podcasts for the digital giant. The agreement will encompass six new series over the next two years.

The effort will be overseen by Imagine’s chief strategy officer Justin Wilkes and led by producer Kara Welker.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have iHeart as our partner as we launch the Imagine brand into the audio space,” said Wilkes. “Audio has proven to be a fantastic incubator and engine for IP development and between our connectivity to talent and storytellers, as well as our ability to create high-quality content, we’re incredibly well positioned to enter the category.”

While no flagship projects have been unveiled, the Imagine team said the goal was to expand the new division into immersive experiences that encompass filmed content, live events, and tours and merchandise — all leveraging its library of intellectual property.

“Imagine stands for the very highest quality content – behind some of the greatest film, TV and digital content the world has seen,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. “As the largest podcast network in the world, our goal is simple and consistent: We want to work with the most innovative, passionate storytellers in the world — producers who don’t just work in mediums, but who pioneer them. That’s Imagine.”

iHeartMedia’s iHeartPodcast Network hosts more than 750 originals, clocking more than 321 million global downloads each month, the company estimates. Categories include business, sports, spirituality and technology, entertainment, family, comedy and true crime.